Purina worker positive for COVID-19; Nestle may pay wages

A worker for Purina PetCare tested positive for the presence of the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19.

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(Kira_Yan | BigStock.com)
(Kira_Yan | BigStock.com)

A worker for Purina PetCare tested positive for the presence of the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19, reported The Morning Call. Following the results, Purina sanitized and deep cleaned the pet food distribution center in Allentown, Pennsylvania where the employee worked. The illness was confirmed on Thursday evening, March 26, and after overnight sanitation, the facility was planned to be back in operation on Friday. No other employees are known to have been quarantined as a result of contact with the infected individual.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, St. Louis-based Purina PetCare’s parent company Nestlé announced that employees worldwide affected by work stoppages would receive full salaries for at least three months, reported Reuters. Nestle will provide cash advances or loans for workers facing hard times. Employees who may have contracted the virus now have a sick leave arrangement in place. In Canada, Nestle also plans to temporarily raise wages by US$3 per hour for on-duty workers in factory and distribution centers.

Feds deem pet food industry vital during COVID-19 pandemic

United States Department of Homeland Security officials defined some dog, cat and other food industry professionals as “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” during the COVID-19 pandemic. With that, the federal agency deemed pet food, ingredient and packaging facility workers as necessary for “ensuring continuity of functions critical to public health and safety, as well as economic and national security,” wrote Christopher Krebs, director of U.S. Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, in a memorandum released March 19.

“All decisions should appropriately balance public safety while ensuring the continued delivery of critical infrastructure services and functions,” Krebs wrote.

The memorandum defined and enumerated infrastructure workers needed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal memo was not an order or directive. Instead, Homeland Security intended to advise and guide State, local, tribal and territorial governments in their own response strategies.

Pet food processing and other workers needed during pandemic

The Homeland Security memorandum listed various professions related to the pet food industry:

“Food manufacturer employees and their supplier employees—to include… pet and animal feed processing facilities; human food facilities producing by-products for animal food… and the production of food packaging.

“Farm workers to include those employed in animal food, feed, and ingredient production, packaging, and distribution; manufacturing, packaging, and distribution of veterinary drugs; truck delivery and transport…

“Animal agriculture workers to include those employed in veterinary health; manufacturing and distribution of animal medical materials, animal vaccines, animal drugs, feed ingredients, feed, and bedding, etc…”

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